Centre for Research in Communication and Culture


27 February 2020

The Visual Turn: Assessing the Political Influence of Images and Nonverbal Behavior

Presented By Professor Erik Bucy
  • 2pm - 4pm
  • Brockington U.122

About this event

This talk has two aims: first, to outline and delineate the nascent area of visual politics research, evident in a growing number of publications and moves (journal-related, conference-related, and handbook-related) that signal the gradual coalescing of an area. Second, to demonstrate through a series of case studies the persuasive influence that images of policies and politicians can have on news audiences. A key concept explored in these illustrative cases is the notion of polysemy, or the vulnerability of images to diverse interpretation. The interpretative process hinges both on visual framing and viewer background, accounting for aspects of presentation and aspects of individuals, whether standing attitudes towards salient issues or more deeply rooted value systems. The interplay between nonverbal behavior on the main screen of television and viewer responses on the second screen of mobile devices is also reviewed, focusing on the transgressive debate style of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential debates.

Erik P. Bucy is the Marshall and Sharleen Formby Regents Professor of Strategic Communication in the College of Media and Communication at Texas Tech University. He is the coauthor of Image Bite Politics: News and the Visual Framing of Elections (with Maria Elizabeth Grabe, Oxford, 2009)—winner of the 2010 ICA Book Award—and coeditor of the Sourcebook for Political Communication Research: Methods, Measures, and Analytical Techniques (with R. Lance Holbert, Routledge, 2013). His research interests include visual and nonverbal analysis of political news, user engagement with digital technologies, and public opinion about the press. Bucy is the past editor of Politics and the Life Sciences, an interdisciplinary journal published by Cambridge University Press, and is currently editing a special issue of the International Journal of Press/Politics on visual politics.